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Monday, April 27, 2015

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Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 23 - Gevurah sheb'Netzach
Tonight Count 24
Jewish History

In the early 1070s, the Muslim Turks commenced an offensive against the Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VII offered his help to defend the Greek Christians, but the army he promised never materialized.

In 1095, his successor, Urban II, began to call for a holy war to liberate the Christians in Jerusalem. By the next year, more than 100,000 men had rallied to his call, forming the First Crusade. Urban and the local clergymen in Europe felt that the Crusade had another purpose as well--to annihilate all non-Christians in Europe who refused to convert to Christianity.

On their way to the Holy Land, the mobs of crusaders attacked many Jewish communities. On Shabbat, the 8th of Iyar, the Jews of Speyer (Rhineland-Palatinate), Germany were massacred. Many of the Jews of Worms, Germany were also massacred on this day; some of them took refuge in a local castle for a week before being slaughtered as they recited their morning prayers (see "Today in Jewish History" for Sivan 1).

Link: The First Crusade

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the twenty-fourth day of the Omer Count. Since, on the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall of the previous evening, we count the omer for tomorrow's date tonight, after nightfall: "Today is twenty-four days, which are three weeks and three days, to the Omer." (If you miss the count tonight, you can count the omer all day tomorrow, but without the preceding blessing).

The 49-day "Counting of the Omer" retraces our ancestors' seven-week spiritual journey from the Exodus to Sinai. Each evening we recite a special blessing and count the days and weeks that have passed since the Omer; the 50th day is Shavuot, the festival celebrating the Giving of the Torah at Sinai.

Tonight's Sefirah: Tifferet sheb'Netzach -- "Harmony in Ambition"

The teachings of Kabbalah explain that there are seven "Divine Attributes" -- Sefirot -- that G-d assumes through which to relate to our existence: Chessed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut ("Love", "Strength", "Beauty", "Victory", "Splendor", "Foundation" and "Sovereignty"). In the human being, created in the "image of G-d," the seven sefirot are mirrored in the seven "emotional attributes" of the human soul: Kindness, Restraint, Harmony, Ambition, Humility, Connection and Receptiveness. Each of the seven attributes contain elements of all seven--i.e., "Kindness in Kindness", "Restraint in Kindness", "Harmony in Kindness", etc.--making for a total of forty-nine traits. The 49-day Omer Count is thus a 49-step process of self-refinement, with each day devoted to the "rectification" and perfection of one the forty-nine "sefirot."

Links:
How to count the Omer
The deeper significance of the Omer Count

Daily Thought

Throughout history, countless tactics and strategies are played in the battle over planet Earth. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is called winning. And winning comes at the very end.

With every other round of the game, the soul puts out whatever it’s got. When it comes to the last stretch, neck and neck with the enemy, it‘s got to do better than that. Its very core ignited, it bursts into explosion of power never before imagined.

This is the stubborn power we have today, to finally change the world and transform it into a G‑dly place. Not with our own strength, but with the power of all those before us. Because now, from above, every power is released, the very essence is called forth. To win.

Maamor Bati Legani 5710, chapter 11; Beshalach 5741:37; Ki Tavo 5741:58. Torat Menachem 5746 vol. 1, pg. 87.